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Arjen Anthony Lucassen (born 3 April 1960, Hilversummarker) is a composer and musician from the Netherlandsmarker and is most widely known for his albums released under the name Ayreon. Lucassen plays a wide variety of instruments, chiefly guitars and synthesizers, but also less commonly others such as the flute and mellotron. He claims that the greatest instrument is the Hammond organ. He also occasionally uses his voice in his music. Although Lucassen cannot read or write sheet music, he is a proficient musician and adept in technical aspects. He has a penchant for directing talent, characterized by the successful Ayreon albums, in almost all of which he pools together many separate vocalists and musicians who record their performances individually. This makes arranging live performances very difficult, and thus Lucassen is rarely seen in a live performance, although it has happened (such as during his Star One and Stream of Passion tours).

Lucassen is known for answering e-mails from his fans rather diligently, as quickly as he can, and in fact promotes such by stating that "you can email Arjen" on his albums. He also opened a line of communication on the Ayreon website known as "Ask Arjen Anything", where fans could ask whatever they'd like to him, to which Lucassen answers, and the completed list can be seen on the site itself.

He is 2.02 meters (6'7") tall, but jokes that he "doesn't play basketball".

Early life

Born April 3, 1960 in Hilversummarker. He and his brother Gjalt were reportedly good students, although Arjen was known for being a troublemaker in class.

He became a big fan of The Beatles and then early glam-rock like Alice Cooper and David Bowie. At first, he "was too lazy" to learn an instrument, and instead started a play-back project called "The Flying Potatoes" and borrowed his mother's wig for performances. He started to play guitar when a friend gave him a copy of the Deep Purple album Made in Japan. After learning to play, Lucassen played in many bands until 1980, one called "Mover".

Career

1980-1984: Bodine

In 1980, Dutch band Bodine was looking for a new singer. Bodine was one of Lucassen's favorite bands, and he brought his guitar to the audition in hopes of becoming their second guitarist. After being rejected for his singing abilities, he then played some Bodine songs on his guitar. The rest of the band hired him as their guitarist.

Lucassen stayed with Bodine until 1984, recording two albums with them, Bold and Brass and Three Time Running.

1984-1992: Vengeance

Lucassen got a call from a new band called Vengeance, looking for a guitarist. He told them that he was available, and quickly quit Bodine shortly after.

He reportedly had more creative freedom in Vengeance, being able to write and compose songs. Still, many creative problems were present, seeing as the band all hailed from different musical backgrounds. In the early nineties, the band wanted to go into more of a grunge and alternative rock direction, much like many other bands at the time. Lucassen, however, wanted to go into more of a progressive direction. Lucassen left the band in 1992 to pursue a solo career.

1992–1994: Solo career

Due to the new found creative freedom, Lucassen started writing and recording songs from many different styles. After hearing some of these songs, a record company decided to record an album with him. Lucassen released the album Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy, under the name "Anthony" in 1993. Lucassen played most of the instruments himself except for the drums and synthesizer.

Even though the album spawned three singles with radio spots, the album flopped. It is no longer available, and is considered a collector's item.

1995-present: Ayreon

After his unsuccessful solo album, Lucassen wanted to create an album that would be all him, and would not conform to any one genre or style. He was inspired by the rock operas of the 60s and 70s like Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, The Who's Tommy, and Pink Floyd's The Wall. He found a small Dutch label called Transmission Records that was interested, and he started recording his next album.

The original name for the album was just going to be "Ayreon: The Final Experiment", with no band name given. The label then suggested that the artist name should be given as Ayreon, and the album should be called "The Final Experiment". Ayreon's The Final Experiment was released in 1995. Much like his first solo album, he played many of the instruments himself and wrote all of the lyrics.

The album featured a very wide array of musical styles, ranging from folk to progressive metal. Because of this, Lucassen didn't think the album would be too successful. In contrast, the album received positive critical reviews. The album also contained many vocalists and guest musicians, with Lucassen only singing on three of the songs.

After the success of The Final Experiment, Lucassen would continue with a number of Ayreon album projects along with other side projects outside of his main Ayreon direction including: Ambeon, Star One, and Stream of Passion.

Special editions of all of Ayreon's album were released in 2004 when Lucassen switched labels from Transmission to InsideOut Records.

1997: Strange Hobby

Between Actual Fantasy and Into the Electric Castle, Lucassen released an album on which he covered many of his favorite songs called Strange Hobby. The album itself did not do well upon release, and went out of print. It is his only work where he sings on all the songs and plays all of the music himself.

2000s: Depression and New Side project

In early 2007, Arjen sank into a deep depression, due to his recent divorce and affliction with Anosmia. However, he "kicked his own butt" back to the studio to record 01011001.

On 27 May 2008 Arjen made the following announcement in his Newsletter (issue 84):

"I'm very inspired and have already recorded three long instrumental songs — almost 30 minutes of material! The music I've recorded so far has some similarities to Ayreon, maybe a bit closer to Dream Sequencer than to Flight of the Migrator. But there are enough differences even at this early stage to tell me that it won't be an Ayreon album. Contrary to Ayreon I'll try to work with just one singer this time. I have no idea yet who that will be (though there are plenty of options, including myself).

Nor do I know what the concept will be — or if there will even be a concept at all! I'm definitely not consciously trying to be different or re-invent the wheel with this one, but a definite style is gradually taking shape and it feels good!

—Arjen"

Side projects

After the Universal Migrator albums, Lucassen wanted to embark on two side projects that would explore both his ambient, atmospheric progressive side, and one that explored his heavier progressive metal side. Lucassen initially formed Ambeon and Star One to fill these respective roles.

Ambeon

Though Ambeon started to explore Lucassen's softer music, it ended up something much different. When recruiting singers, he found out about a very talented Dutch singer named Astrid van der Veen, who at the time was only 14 years old. Lucassen decided to focus Ambeon on just her singing abilities. Fate of a Dreamer was released in 2000, along with the single "Cold Metal". The album featured just Astrid on vocals and her lyrics, and Lucassen on most of the instruments. The album had limited success.

Although the project has not been officially retired, there are currently no further plans for Ambeon. Astrid is currently in a band called theEndorphins.

Star One

Much like Ayreon, Star One had many guest singers and musicians, the most notable ones being Dave Brock of Hawkwind, Russell Allen of Symphony X and Damian Wilson of Threshold. Lucassen released Star One's Space Metal in 2002. Like Ayreon's Actual Fantasy, Space Metal did not follow one storyline; instead, each song was a different story with a sci-fi concept, most of the tracks based on existing movies and series like Star Wars, Star Trek IV, Blake's 7, and Dune. The album also had limited success, although it was more successful than Ambeon.

Like Lucassen's other project Stream of Passion, Star One did tour and released a live album called Live On Earth. Along with playing Star One songs, they also played many Ayreon songs on tour.

In an October 2009 interview with Lebmetal.com, Arjen suggested that his next project might be another Star One album.

Stream of Passion

After completing the Ayreon album The Human Equation, Lucassen wanted to create a more conventional progressive metal band. He also wanted to showcase the talents of Mexican singer, Marcela Bovio, who sang on The Human Equation.

He recruited a bassist, drummer, and keyboardist and started the band now called Stream of Passion. Lucassen allowed Marcela to be creatively free, with her writing and composing a lot of the music. The style ended up as a blend of metal and symphonic progressive rock. They released the album Embrace the Storm in 2005. Like Lucassen's previous side project, Star One, Stream of Passion toured and released a live album, Live In The Real World, in 2006. Like Star One, the tour featured many Ayreon songs as well as songs from the album.

As planned, Lucassen left Stream of Passion in 2007. The band continues without him, and released a second album, titled The Flame Within, in May 2009.

Guilt Machine

In February 2009, Arjen announced in his website his new side project: Guilt Machine. The project will feature a very limited line-up, comparing to other Arjen's side projects: Arjen Lucassen on the instruments and backing vocals, Jasper Steverlinck (Arid) on lead vocals, Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree) on drums and Lori Linstruth (ex-Stream of Passion) on lead guitar. According to Arjen, the music will range "from dark and heavy to atmospheric and melancholic". Regarding the concept, Arjen stated that instead of fantasy and science fiction themes, Guilt Machine will explore "the destructive psychology of guilt, regret and the darkest form of secret -- the secrets we hide from ourselves." In spite of the differences, the songs are expected to keep the dynamic contrasts, intricated harmonies, complex rhythms and soaring melodies of any Ayreon release. Arjen has stated that Guilt Machine is his favourite side project to date.

Guest appearances

  • Pythagoras - After the Silence (1981)
  • Anthony - Pools Of Sorrow, Waves Of Joy (1993)
  • Ian Parry - Symphony of Dreams (1993)
  • Alex Bollard - Pink Floyd Songbook (1994)
  • Ian Parry - Thru the Looking Glass (1995)
  • Biscuit - Between you and me (1996)
  • Veralin - Opposites (1997)
  • Helloise - A Time And Place For Everything (1998)
  • Block Busters - Powder to the People (1999)
  • Ian Parry - Consortium Project (1999)
  • Peter Daltrey - Candy (1999)
  • Rocket Scientists - Oblivion Days (1999)
  • Erik Norlander - Into The Sunset (2000)
  • Ian Parry - Shadowman (2000)
  • Glass Hammer - Chronometree (2000)
  • Within Temptation - Mother Earth (2000)
  • Lana Lane - Secrets Of Astrology (2000)
  • After Forever - Emphasis (2002)
  • Nolan / Wakeman - The Hound Of The Baskervilles (2002)
  • Wicked Sensation - Reflected (2002)
  • Nightingale - Alive Again (2003)
  • Ars Nova - Biogenesis (2003)
  • Gary Hughes - Once and Future King Part I (2003)
  • Space Mirrors - The Darker Side of Art (2004)
  • Amadeus' Spell (2004)
  • Elfonía - This Sonic Landscape (2005)
  • Freak Neil Inc. - Characters (2005)
  • Shadow Gallery - Room V: Special Edition (2005)
  • Kalisia - Cybion (2008)


References



External links




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